- By Jon Steely
- Photo Courtesy of Gone Girl
Could a new fall movie be more widely anticipated or look more viscerally enticing than uber-director David Fincher’s latest offering Gone Girl? In Fincher’s highly capable hands, Gone Girl is the film adaptation of author Gillian Flynn’s internationally best-selling novel, which tells the tale of a marriage gone dreadfully awry. Essentially, this mystery/thriller is bound to take its audience on a dark, suspenseful and exhilarating ride – and a disturbingly funny one, too. Are you hooked yet? Do I need to keep going?
Okay. It’s name-dropping time. We’ve already mentioned David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), one of Hollywood’s most edgy and in-demand studio directors, and New York Times best selling mystery author Gillian Flynn. Now, let’s look at a few more names you’ll see in the film’s credits: Ben Affleck (Armageddon, Argo), former Bond girl Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day, Pride & Prejudice, Barney’s Version), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Tyler Perry (A Madea Christmas, Diary of a Mad Black Woman), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and Emily Ratajkowski, the shimmying babe from Robin Thicke’s 2013 “Blurred Lines” video, in a juicy turn as Affleck’s character’s mistress. Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blond, Sweet Home Alabama, Walk the Line) is one of the film’s producers, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.
Now, let’s talk plot: On Nick Dunne’s (Affleck) fifth wedding anniversary, his stunning wife, Amy (Pike), vanishes. Nick reports her disappearance to the authorities, portraying their marriage as a non-contentious and amiable partnership. As the investigation a progress, Nick is caught up in a web of lies, revealing his marriage wasn’t such a happy one, after all. Before long, tensions rise and a national media frenzy erupts as Nick’s innocence is questioned. When everyone starts to suspect Nick has killed his wife, Gone Girl soars to chillingly dramatic heights. I’m actually on the edge of my seat, intrigued and eager to see this film. Aren’t you?
Gone Girl, Fincher’s tenth feature film, also has an interesting genesis.
As the story goes, Flynn’s novel was given to Reese Witherspoon, who had a vision of turning it into a major motion picture with herself in the female lead role of Amy. Along came David Fincher, who agreed to direct, but – with a propensity for casting lesser known actors in star-making roles (think Kristen Stewart in 2002’s The Panic Room) – didn’t see Witherspoon in his vision of Amy. Instead, he cast Rosamund Pike.
Reese Witherspoon remained attached to the project as a producer and Fincher, who has often favored Brad Pitt as his leading man choice (Seven, Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), picked Ben Affleck to play Nick Dunne, based primarily on the actor’s smile. “You cast movies based on critical scenes,” Fincher told Playboy Magazine. “In Gone Girl there’s a smile the guy has to give when the local press asks him to stand next to a poster of his missing wife…he’s trying to make people comfortable in the moment, but by doing that he’s making himself vulnerable to people having other perceptions about him.”
Having previously worked with Fincher by providing the soundtrack to The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, industrial rocker Trent Reznor joined forces with Fincher again on Gone Girl, enhancing the film’s mood with a hauntingly creepy musical score.
Popping up throughout Gone Girl are moments of unsettling humor. “I liken it to a National Lampoon record that was put out in the mid-‘70s called ‘That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick,’” Fincher said, in an Entertainment Weekly article. “That’s the tone! You have to kind of be going, ‘It isn’t funny – but it is.’”
Gone Girl screenwriter Gillian Flynn echoed Fincher’s sentiments when she discussed the film’s disturbingly awkward humor in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “Fincher and I talked about how much we like that kind of feeling where the audience is looking around going, ‘Am I supposed to laugh here?’”
Gone Girl opens in theaters on October 3.